Over the past few years I’ve come across a few artists that have taken places among my favorites. So this week I’m checking out what’s new with Lake Street Dive, Snarky Puppy and Chris Thile.
In an amazing convergence, Chris Thile performed with Snarky Puppy at a recent live show. Chris jumps in to play jazz mandolin at about 2:30. You’ll hear Snarky Puppy’s band leader Michael League say, “We got six minutes, Chris Thile you got four-and-a-half!”. Suitable homage from one supremely talented musician to another.
Chris also dropped by the Steven Colbert show where he played his Punch Brothers song “My Oh My” with Jon Batiste & Stay Human. You don’t often get to see Stay Human play a full song, so check out their work including Batiste’s fantastic piano accompaniment. You’ll see why Thile exclaims “This band!”.
Lake Street Dive’s members seem to have taken time over the winter for some side projects. Listen to Rachel Price tap into her jazz roots with a 1930’s Gershwin Brothers tune, in a duet with Brooklyn-based guitarist/singer Vilray.
And LSD’s base player, song writer, backing singer and all around super talented Bridget Kearney put out her own album “Won’t Let You Down” a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the video from “Wash Up”.
As I write, the Grammy results are not all in yet, but winners in a number of jazz categories have been announced. It’s great to know the musical form is still going strong.
Thrilled to report that Snarky Puppy won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for “Sylva”. I wrote about the band a bit over a year ago, a few months before the April release of “Sylva”. For this album the group teamed up with Holland’s Metropole Orkest. Enjoy this video performance of the album’s first three tracks. It’s 15 minutes long, but well worth it.
A couple of weeks ago you read about young Joey Alexander, who was nominated for two Grammy awards. Well, he didn’t win either, but no shame in that when we look at the winners (and since he’s just 12, Joey will have plenty more chances).
Bassist Christian McBride won Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Cherokee” from “Live at the Village Vanguard”. It’s hard to find someone in the world of jazz whom McBride hasn’t played with over the years, from Wynton Marsalis to Chick Corea to Herbie Hancock. And he’s played with the likes of Paul McCartney, James Brown and The Roots as well. There is plenty of great soloing by all three musicians on this track by the Christian McBride Trio, but that is some fine base work.
In the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album, young Joey was bested by legendary guitarist John Schofield for his latest release, “Past Present”. Schofield’s jazz resume may be even more amazing than McBride’s, having played with George Duke, Charles Mingus, and Gary Burton, before a long stint with Miles Davis. For “Past Present” he teams up with saxophonist Joe Lovano, a bandmate from the 80’s. Here’s “Get Proud”.
To get 2015 off on the right foot, some great suggestions have floated in from friends and other bloggers. But before we get started, happy to say that two of the artists we featured when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced made it through (see the post)!
First up is Snarky Puppy. Thanks, Ben! This Brooklyn based group of jazz fusion musicians, a self described “quasi-collective”, migrated from the University of North Texas . Their website lists a dozen members, but the video below makes you wonder if that number grows on some tracks. The video for “What About Me?” is from the live performance set-up they used to record their latest CD “We Like It Here”. If you find the beginning of the guitar solo at 3:00 a bit ethereal for your tastes, hang in there till things pick up at about 3:45. And if you want to hear one of the other guitarists strut his stuff, check out “Jambone”.
Meanwhile, on another street in Brooklyn we find the alt-country trio The Lone Bellow. Thanks Dennis and Maureen! They are about to release their second album, “Then Came the Morning”, and will apparently be on Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night to play “Cold As It Is” from that album. Hear that track before everybody else, and also try out the album’s title track. No shortage of great backing musicians in the Big Apple!
Last but not least is the duo Polaris Rose from Los Angeles. They were mentioned on the excellent blog “The Delete Bin”. Thanks, Rob! No matter how cold a winter you’re dealing with, these harmonies and lush guitar tones will make you feel like you’re in the California warmth of the videos. “Perfect View” is from their new album “Telescopes”, and “Chartreuse” is from their debut EP “The Moon & Its Secrets”.